Did you know Denzel Washington was a basketball player in college?

Denzel Washington shoots hoops in a scene from the film 'He Got Game', 1998. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

I bet that almost everybody remembers Denzel Washington impressive basketball skills from Spike Lee’s movie “He got game” where he is facing the legendary Ray Allen. But not many of you know the true fact that back in 1972-1974, the famous actor was a basketball player for the team Fordham, in the Bronx.

Look how Denzel Washington was described by Darryl Brown, Fordham Class of 1975, Boston Celtics draft pick

“He played great defense, very quick, he had good hops, he was a slasher, he would drive hard to the basket. That’s kind of the inner-city game. He didn’t have the best of shots, but he had all of that tenacity. You didn’t want him to guard you, let me put it that way. He knew where his strengths were; he would just get in your jock and he wouldn’t let you go. That’s the way he played. He was 6-1 and a pretty decent ball-handler, and he would go at the basket real hard”.

Even if P. J. Carlesimo, Fordham Class of 1971 considered the future actor being better than 95% of the students playing basketball in the college at the time, Denzel Washington was not destined to go to the NBA. He was very good, above the average level, as Patrick O’Connell, Fordham Class of 1977 remembers him, but not enough to make the step into the best basketball competition of the planet:

“He was very athletic; he wasn’t a basketball superstar. He had a really good drive but not the best outside shot. … When I found out Denzel was from Mount Vernon, I had this immediate respect. … He wasn’t NBA material, but he was just one of those really athletic guys. He knew the game. He knew how to pass and knew how to share the ball. It was really savvy basketball”.

Photo: Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

Angel Jimenez